Archive for Cardiff City

The Book of Relegations

Posted in Football with tags , , , , , , , on April 21, 2019 by telescoper

At this time of year it seems appropriate to do a post, as the thoughts of good folk around the world turn to the important issue of the season … ie who will get relegated from the Premiership.

Yesterday evening’s win by Newcastle United over Southampton left the lower reaches of the table looking like this:

Huddersfield and Fulham having already been doomed, the only question is who will join them.

The bookies clearly think Cardiff City are odds-on to take the third relegation spot: the best odds I could get are 1/6 on them going down, implying only a probability of 14% or so survival. Brighton and Hove Albion are 9/2. Southampton are 150/1, Burnley 250/1 and Newcastle 750/1.

I’m not so sure the odds on Cardiff City are fair: they do play Liverpool later today but after that seem to have two winnable games (against Fulham and Crystal Palace). Brighton are three points ahead of Cardiff, but that’s away against Spurs and they’ll do well to get anything out of that fixture, and after that they have games against Newcastle United, Arsenal and Manchester City. Despite yesterday’s 0-0 draw against Wolves they don’t look like a team strong on form and confidence.In short I think that 9/2 is worth a bet.

Let me say that I don’t want to see either Brighton or Cardiff go down. I’ve got ties to both places. I’m just talking about what seems probable not what I think is desirable.

Southampton seem to have extremely long odds too, but they do seem to have a much easier run in than Brighton.

We’ll see. I’d expect these odds to change quite a bit if Cardiff beat Liverpool this afternoon. If they lose, however, then Newcastle are mathematically safe from relegation…

UPDATE: Cardiff City lost 2-0 at home to Liverpool this afternoon. The odds on them get relegated have shortened a bit (around 1/8 is as good as you can get) but there’s no great change in the odds, presumably because bookies did not really expect Cardiff to get any points from that game. Brighton have now moved to 13/2 against.

Cardiff City are now on 31 points with three games left. That means the maximum total they can reach is 40, so Newcastle United are safe from relegation.

A Day of Sports in Cardiff

Posted in Cardiff, Cricket, Football with tags , , on May 6, 2018 by telescoper

Today I saw my first day of County Cricket this season at Sophia Gardens. It was actually the 3rd day of Glamorgan against Kent, which also turned out to be the last, as Kent won by six wickets.

Defeat for Glamorgan looked pretty inevitable after a horrendous first innings batting collapse from 57-0 to 94 all out. Although they dismissed Kent for 174 and scored 274 in their second innings, the lead of 194 never looked like being enough. On the other hand Yorkshire won their latest match against Essex despite being all out for 50 in their first innings!

As it turned out, in the warm sunshine and good batting conditions, Glamorgan’s bowlers tried hard but didn’t have much luck and never really looked like precipitating the sort of collapse that they needed to win the game.

Today’s play began with a farcical delay caused by a leak in the underground drainage system beneath the square which caused a wet patch. Play was delayed until 12.40 and the players had an early lunch while the sun did its work drying out the square. I’m not sure how this happened but it didn’t affect the game, which was always going to finish today given that there was no chance of the weather intervening. .

A very disappointing result for Glamorgan, but hopefully they can rebound in their next game.

Anyway, just before 2.30pm those of us inside Sophia Gardens (only abiut 250) could hear the sound of fireworks from the Cardiff City Stadium (which is about 20 minutes walk away). Despite only drawing today’s match against Reading, Cardiff City are promoted to the Premiership for next season in second place. They have Birmingham City to thank for that, who beat Fulham 3-1 to secure their Championship survival and prevent Fulham from finishing ahead of Cardiff. Miss Lemon will be pleased.

At the other end of the table, Barnsley, Burton Albion join already relegated Sunderland in League One. The three relegated clubs, once again, are all from the Midlands. It’s strange how often that happens..

Winner Takes All

Posted in Football with tags , on May 22, 2010 by telescoper

Just a quick post for the record. Today was the day that the last promotion from the Championship to the Premiership was decided at the Playoff final between Blackpool and Cardiff City.  I couldn’t get into the local to see the match as there were so many crowded in there already, so I seized on the chance to do some shopping in the deserted Tesco nearby. It sounds like it was an exciting  game, with Cardiff City leading twice, but it ended 3-2 to Blackpool.

I did have a look at the odds a few hours before the game started and found to my surprise that Cardiff were quite strong favourites, at 13/10 compared to Blackpool’s price of 21/10. Blackpool were clearly the form team so I decided to make an investment on the outcome which turned out to be successful. I’ll be having an especially nice bottle of wine tonight.

This was a match with huge financial implications for both clubs,  of course, with an estimated £90 million at stake in TV and other revenues. Cardiff City FC’s money troubles are well documented, and promotion to the Premiership would have been a tremendous boost to the city as a whole too. However, it wasn’t to be and they’ll have to get their house in order and try again next season. I’m actually a little bit relieved that Cardiff City won’t be playing my team Newcastle United in the premiership next season – so I won’t have divided loyalties about that – but it would have been great to have the big teams playing in Cardiff. Of course I also feel sad for the local Cardiff City fans, especially those (including some from the department) who made the trip all the way to Wembley to watch the game. It’s going to be a long journey home.

As for Blackpool, they should be proud of what they’ve achieved this season. I certainly wouldn’t have picked them at the start of the season to get promoted, and I wish them well. I’m sure the players and their fans are ecstatic at this moment. I’m skeptical about their ability to survive more than one Premiership season – with an average home gate of just over 8,000 they don’t really have the resources to compete with the big boys – but I wish them well. I hope they enjoy their time in the sun.

PS. Before anyone asks, yes, I am old enough to remember Blackpool playing in the old First Division, about 40 years ago.

This Sporting Life..

Posted in Football, Sport with tags , , , on April 3, 2010 by telescoper

Although it’s meant to be a holiday I’ve actually been in the department most of the day working on some research (or, rather, writing up some old research). Since I’ve been tapping away at the keys most of the day I haven’t got the energy to write much, and I’m looking forward to a drink and a spot of curry in a few minutes’ time followed by a crack at the jumbo-sized Guardian Easter crossword compiled  by my favourite setter, Araucaria.

However, for the purposes of my own record-keeping – this blog is, at least in part, some kind of a journal – I thought I’d make a quick note of the day’s sport. Usually as we near the end of the football season I get into a state of nervous anxiety wondering what sort of mess my own team, Newcastle United, are going to make of the run-in. However, today I’m pleased to say they followed up Monday’s win against Nottingham Forest with another victory, 3-2 away at Peterborough. Although their opponents are the bottom club of the division at the moment, I always thought this would be a tricky game and so it proved if the press reports are to be believed. Peterborough in fact took an early lead, and Newcastle didn’t equalise until stoppage time in the first half. They then went 3-1 up, only to have one goal pegged back by a determined home team.

That result might have sealed promotion to the Premiership for Newcastle, had Nottingham Forest done the decent thing and lost to Bristol City. They didn’t lose, but only managed a draw. The gap between Newcastle and Nottingham Forest is now 15 points with Forest having five games to play while Newcastle have six games left. It’s extremely improbable that Newcastle will lose all 6 of their games and Forest win all 5 of theirs, so I think we’re pretty much guaranteed to go up. We need just one point to turn that into mathematical certainty.

Today was a big game here in Cardiff too, between Cardiff City and fierce local rivals Swansea. Police helicopters were circling the town all day and there was a heavy presence of uniformed officers trying to ensure there wasn’t any trouble at the match. This too was a close-fought game. With the score at 1-1 until stoppage time at the end of the match, Michael Chopra popped up to score a winner for Cardiff. They’re now hard on the heels of Nottingham Forest in fourth place, with 68 points to Forest’s 71. Cardiff might still have to play Swansea in the playoffs. That could be interesting..

And finally, it’s worth noting that today was the day of the annual Oxford versus Cambridge Boat Race in London. I’m not going to pretend that I follow this sport particularly closely, but the occasions on which I’ve been to watch the spectacle have been very enjoyable (even though Oxford has beaten my own Alma Mater every time I’ve bothered to watch it). It’s usually more of an excuse to have a few drinks while watching other people busting a gut than a genuine interest in the sport. Still, I do have a residual loyalty to Cambridge University so I was delighted to find out that they won today. If I’d seen the pre-race odds, I might have had a bet as Oxford were clear favourites.

Not at all a bad day results-wise. I almost finished my paper too…

Match Day

Posted in Biographical, Sport with tags , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2010 by telescoper

Unusually for a saturday, I’ve been a bit busy today and I’m also going out later, so I’ll refrain from one of my discursive weekend posts and keep it brief (but not necessarily to any particular point).

Today, of course, is the date of Wales’ first home match in this year’s RBS Six Nations Rugby competition. They lost to England 30-17 last week (at Twickenham) largely because of a bit of indiscipline by Alan Wyn Jones who got himself sent off the field for ten minutes after tripping an England player. England forged ahead during the time Wales were down to 14 men and although Wales fought back later on I thought England deserved to win. It wasn’t, however, a very good game to watch.

The scene was thus set for a home game for Wales in Cardiff  today against Scotland (who lost at home to France last week). It’s really impossible to describe how special it is to be in this city when Wales are playing rugby. The Millennium Stadium can hold about 75,000 which is large compared to Cardiff’s population of around 330,000. The Scottish fans, easily identified by the kilts and the smell of alcohol, were out on the townin large numbers last night. No doubt many of them woke with substantial hangovers this morning, but it has been a beautiful sunny day and the sight of the Scots – blue and tartan – mixing with the Welsh – red and green with a liberal sprinkling of dragons- was marvellous to see as I walked around this morning running a few errands.

The atmosphere in town was just sensational, unique to Cardiff, and enough to make you just want to walk around and soak it up. Actually, enough to make you wish you had a ticket for the match too, which unfortunately I didn’t. Still, it was live on TV.

When I got home the crowds were already walking down past my house towards the stadium, which is only a mile or so away,  for the 2pm kickoff. Among them was the sizeable frame of legendary Welsh rugby hero JPR Williams. He’s quite  old now – a quick look on wikipedia reveals that he was born in 1949 – but he hasn’t changed much at all since his heyday in the 1970s.  Taller than I had imagined.

Anyway, I did a little gardening in the sunshine just before the match started and, standing outside, I could hear the sound of Land of my Fathers being sung before the kickoff all the way from the Stadium. It made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Tremendous.

The match itself was strangely disjointed to begin with but ended in extremely exciting fashion. Wales playing surprisingly poorly in the first half and Scotland surprisingly well. Wales appeared nervous and a bit disorganised and the two Scottish tries both involved defensive errors by the Welsh. The half-time score of  Wales 9 Scotland 18 was not what I would have expected before the start of the game, but was a fair reflection of the balance of play at that point.

The second half initially followed a similar pattern, Scotland edging 21-9 ahead at one point,  but Wales gradually crept back into it. However, it was a yellow card for a Scottish infringement that led to Wales gaining enough momentum to claw their way back to 21-24 with a try created by Shane Willians and scored by Leigh Halfpenny. Then, with less than a minute to play,  Scotland lost another player for a cynical piece of foul play that prevented another Welsh try. Wales decided to take the penalty kick to tie the game at 24-24 with just 40 seconds left. The Scots restarted with only 13 men on the field and only seconds left to play, hoping to run down the clock and finish with a draw. However the Welsh were scenting an unlikely victory and the Scots were very tired. The Welsh managed to keep the ball alive – the next dead ball would have been the end of the game – and, unbelievably, Shane Williams popped in to score a try. The match ended Wales 31 Scotland 24.

It wasn’t the best rugby I’ve ever seen in terms of quality, but it’s definitely the most dramatic final ten minutes! I’m not sure the referee was right to allow the restart after the kick to level it at 24-24 as it seemed to me the time was up then. I’m sure the rugby fans in Cardiff  tonight won’t be quibbling, though. The city will be buzzing tonight!

Today was also the day for two important footall matches. In the FA Cup, Cardiff City travelled to Premiership leaders Chelsea and, predictably, got thrashed 4-1. The other match that interested me was Swansea City versus Newcastle United in the Championship. That finished 1-1, a result I was happy with since Swansea are playing well and Newcastle had lost in feeble fashion 3-0 away at Derby County earlier in the week. They go back top, if only by one point.

All in all, a most satisfactory day, and it’s not over yet. Tonight I’m off to the Opera (for the first time in what seems like ages). So guess what tomorrow’s post will be about….

Results and Transfer Gossip

Posted in Finance, Football, Science Politics, Uncategorized with tags , , on February 6, 2010 by telescoper

I had to skip the usual trip to the Poet’s Corner last night and go home early because the general state of fatigue I’ve been in suddenly morphed into a fever. I went home at 5, went straight to bed, and it was only Columbo’s frantic pawing that woke me up several hours later. I had not only missed a leaving party for Kate Isaak, who is now off to work for the European Space Agency, but also slept all the way through Newcastle United’s splendid 5-1 hammering of Cardiff City in last night’s Coca Cola Championship match at St James’ Park.

Despite home advantage, and the fact that Newcastle won the corresponding away fixture here in Cardiff, I thought this tie would be pretty difficult for Newcastle so I was overjoyed to see the result when I finally roused myself from feverish slumbers. It seems that Newcastle’s recent signings in the January transfer window actually came good, especially Wayne Routledge who gives the side a much-needed injection of pace down the wing. Cardiff City, on the other hand, didn’t buy any players at all because they need all the cash they’ve got to pay off an outstanding tax bill and thwart various winding-up orders that have been served on them. The turbulence behind the scenes seems to have worked its way onto the pitch: the blues are definitely the most erratic team in the division, winning 6-0 only a week or so ago and then getting thrashed 5-1 yesterday.

And just to make  my allegiances clear, I do have a soft spot for Cardiff City and do want to see them do well – except when they’re playing Newcastle. Once a Geordie, always a Geordie…

Results of a different kind were the topic of discussion around the School of Physics & Astronomy yesterday, as it was the official day for tutors to hand the results of the 1st semester exams to their tutees. It’s always great to see students leaving their tutor’s office with a big smile on their face, which happened rather a lot yesterday.  Some, of course, got more disappointing news, but to them I’d just say that it’s only half way through the year so there’s plenty of time to recover. Stick at it, and don’t let setbacks get you down.  I hope to see even more happy faces in June than I did yesterday….

Football teams like Cardiff City aren’t the only things to be enduring financial uncertainty these days, either. Even the Premiership clubs of the university sector are feeling the pinch. Many institutions around the country are planning departmental closures and redundancies, but you know it’s serious when it hits the big colleges in London. Last week University College (UCL) and Imperial both announced plans for large-scale layoffs, and this week they were joined by King’s College which plans to sack 205 academics, including 30 in the School of Physical Sciences and Engineering.

The background to all this is that the cuts announced by Lord Mandelson in December have now been officially passed on to English universities by HEFCE, but one suspects also that in some cases this is being used as a cover for other management decisions. Imperial, for example, is going ahead with the purchase of new property in Wood Lane for a cool £28 million at the same time as cutting academic positions costing a fraction of that.

Amid all the gloom, however, it is nice to be able to report some good news. Cardiff University was almost declared bankrupt in the 1980s when it failed to get to grips with the cuts imposed by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative  government which were similar in scale to those being implemented by New Labour. It was brought back from the brink, however, and since then has managed its finances with almost excessive caution. Other universities have scored spectacular successes in the League tables by spending money freely on fancy research initiatives and overseas campuses, but in the new reality of austerity Britain these may turn out to have been risky ventures.

By contrast, “Safe and Steady” has long been the motto in Cardiff. We might not have done brilliantly in the RAE but the insitution has an extremely sound financial base that should put it in as good position as any to withstand these difficult times. Moreover, we’ve just heard that the University management has agreed that the School of Physics & Astronomy can go ahead and make  four new academic appointments, and that these will be accompanied by substantial startup packages with which the new appointees can begin to equip their own laboratories. This involves a considerable investment in the School from the University’s central coffers and I think it’s fantastic news. I doubt if many UK universities are going to be investing so heavily in physics at this time, so this is an extremely welcome development. It’s always nice to buck the trend.

The adverts will be going out pretty soon, so the transfer window is about to open.  I look forward to meeting our new signings in due course, and I’m confident that they’ll help us climb up the League.

If only I could say the same for Cardiff City…

Cardiff City 1 Bristol City 0

Posted in Football with tags , , on January 19, 2010 by telescoper

It seems like ages since my last football blog post, but tonight has provided me with another opportunity. My local team, Cardiff City, was drawn against Bristol City in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. This promised to be quite a tasty fixture because Bristol City are the nearest English club to Cardiff and there’s consequently something of a local rivalry between the two. A couple of weekends ago I settled down to watch the match (away at Bristol) on the television, as it was shown live on welsh channel S4C. Unfortunately, the snow descended, the pitch froze and the game was postponed. When eventually played the result was 1-1 which meant, under FA Cup rules, a replay at the team initially drawn as the away side. Hence tonight’s fixture.

Cup ties like this often generate their own special kind of atmosphere, but it would be an exaggeration to say that this happened this evening. The attendance was pathetically small (only 6,731), partly because it was a very cold night and partly because the game was again being shown live on S4C. I left in good time from my house in P0ntcanna and found that it took me only 15 minutes from my front door until I was taking my seat in the stadium at Ninian Park. I’m certainly well placed for sporting venues where I live: football, rugby and cricket all within a quarter of an hour’s walk from my house!

The game started unimpressively. Both teams seemed lethargic, they were reluctant to press the ball in midfield, the quality of passing was poor and there were no clear-cut chances at either end. Then, after about 30 minutes, Cardiff’s teenage midfielder Aaron Wildig (who has just broken into the first team) picked up an injury and was replaced by Michael Chopra. This made a big difference to Cardiff’s attacking play and from then on they looked the more likely to score. Nevertheless it was an undistinguished first half which ended predictably at 0-0.

I warmed myself with a pint of ice-cold beer during the interval, and the game started again with Cardiff playing at a better tempo than in the first half. Although it was still a rather scrappy game, it started to get a bit stretched and both teams managed to string a few passes together and find a bit of space. Cardiff probed and made half-chances, but still didn’t look particularly likely to score primarily because they don’t have a particularly clinical finisher in the team, Chopra’s sporadic contributions notwithstanding. Thir best chances came when the Bristol City goalkeeper tried one of his speciality fumbles or botched clearance kicks. His name, by the way, was Gerken which sounded like gherkin on the public address; on a cold and frustrating evening this provided much-needed amusement.

Because the 4th round ties are being played this coming weekend, this game had to reach a conclusion tonight. I was beginning to worry we would have to sit through extra time and penalties, but at least I knew the ball would have to hit the back of the net at some point. I girded my teeth and gritted my loins for the long haul, wishing I had worn my thermal underwear too.

However, my fears turned out to be ill-founded. About 75 minutes into the game, Whittingham’s excellent pass found Chopra in space wide on Bristol City’s left inside the penalty area. The angle looked very tight, but he did brilliantly well to fire in a low shot that sped across the face of the goal. The danger seemed to have passed when it cannoned off the far post but, fortunately for Cardiff, the ball bounced off the woodwork into the path of the Bristol City defender Bradley Orr. I don’t know whether he was trying to put the ball out of danger wide of the post for a corner or just trying to get out of its way, but the result was that he smashed it with considerable force into the back of his own net. It was quite a comical moment, but they all count.

From then on, it was all Cardiff. They had made a good decision to keep going forward rather than try to sit on their lead. They don’t look the best defensive team I’ve seen, by a long way. There were two chances after that for Cardiff to score again, including one really good one for Chopra which he missed when it looked easier to score. Chopra is an enigmatic player, sometimes brilliant, sometimes ordinary.

Bristol tried to get back into it, but didn’t really threaten and betrayed their feelings a bit with a string of wild tackles, many of which went unpunished by an extremely indulgent referee. After a very long 4 minutes of extra time, the referee finally decided to blow his whistle and send Cardiff City into the next round. They will play Leicester City in the 4th Round on saturday. I might go, if I get back from my travels in time…

OK, so it wasn’t the greatest game I’ve ever seen but I still think it’s a shame there were so few supporters there. Along with many football clubs, Cardiff City has quite a few financial problems at the moment but I think if they showed a bit of imagination they could get the fans a bit more on their side. These cup games are not covered by season tickets, so why not cut the price to get more people in? Surely it’s better for the team to have a bigger crowd paying smaller prices, than one that’s depressingly empty?

You can read the BBC report on the match here.

Cardiff City 0 Newcastle United 1

Posted in Football with tags , , on September 13, 2009 by telescoper

I spent most of this afternoon at Cardiff City’s new stadium at Ninian Park (which is just over the road from the old one, in fact). The date of the fixture between Cardiff and Newcastle had been in my diary for weeks but by the time I got round to buying tickets it was sold out except for the Premier seats at £65 a go. I decided to go for it anyway and me and my colleague Derek (another astronomer) went in the posh lounge for drinks before during and after the game. I even had the proverbial prawn sandwich. It makes a big difference having food and drink available before and during the match, and although I’d never been in the upmarket part of a football stadium for a match before it’s something I could definitely get used to. In fact the comfort level was a bit more like you would find at the Opera (which I’m off to on Friday as it happens) than a football match.  Although the chorus was not very tuneful I enjoyed their renditions of  Chi è il bastardo in nero and l’arbitro è un coglione.

With seats at the top level of a packed stadium, we had an excellent view of the game. The atmosphere was brilliant – a contrast to the mid-week international I watched in an empty ground a few days ago.

Cardiff City were  either very nervous in front of their first full house or perhaps just stunned by the horrible sight of Newcastle United’s hideous away strip of two-tone yellow stripes, shown on the left modelled by defender Steven Taylor. It took the home side ages to settle, especially their back four who looked jittery throughout the game.

Newcastle were all over Cardiff in the first half and it was no surprise when the away side scored, from a poorly-defended corner which was eventually  put away by Coloccini. Thereafter Cardiff attacked only sporadically. Chopra – an ex-Newcastle player himself – carved one good chance but Rae skied his shot. The Toon were comfortably up 1-0 at half time.

There weren’t many clear-cut chances in the second half, with Newcastle content to sit back and protect their lead keeping the ball as long as possible. This might have been a mistake if Cardiff had managed to put anything together going forward, but their attacks were generally disjointed and lacking penetration. Chopra was the home side’s only real threat but he didn’t show much in the second half. Newcastle’s policy of playing a single striker – the lone Ranger – paid off in this phase. Although he rarely threatened goal himself  he provided an extremely useful channel through which  his defence could clear the ball. Alan Smith (captain for the day) played just in front of the back 4 in a 4-5-1 formation and showed good skill as well as determination.

Cardiff threatened a few times – including a shout for a penalty for handball that was rightly turned down by the official – but didn’t really look like getting an equaliser until, in stoppage time, a slip Coloccini let to a foul by Smith. His second yellow card got him sent off and also left Cardiff with a free kick in a dangerous position just outside the Newcastle penalty area. Nothing came of it, however, and shortly afterwards the referee blew the final whistle. Cardiff’s use of free kicks and other set-pieces was very poor throughout the game, in fact.

I’m biased of course but I think Newcastle thoroughly deserved to win. Nolan, Barton, and Smith were much more composed in midfield than their opposite numbers and Harper, who didn’t have that much to do, looked very solid in goal. Missing Ameobi up front through injury they picked a less adventurous side than perhaps they would have done for a home game.

There weren’t many shots on goal at either end and the only goal came from a set piece, but the game was played at a good tempo and was very enjoyable to watch.

I’d like to mention that the Newcastle fans in the far corner to our right at one point started singing “there’s only one Bobby Robson” in honour of the recently deceased legendary Newcastle and England manager. Cardiff fans all round the ground responded spontaneously with respectful applause. Good stuff.

A beautiful sunny day, a big crowd (25,000+), an excellent game, played in a good sporting atmosphere, and of course the right result. What more could you want? Actually, a few more beers down in Cardiff Bay which we had too.

Newcastle United now have 16 points from 6 games and remain unbeaten at the top of the championship. Cardiff City slip back from 4th place to 8th.